September 29, 2008

Would You Mind Chopping Off This Ligament For Me?

In baseball, it has become something resembling a rite of passage: Blow out your elbow, visit Dr. Andrews, go under the knife, rehab, and come back throwing harder than ever before.

Have you had your Tommy John surgery today?

Though it's commonplace in the world of baseball, ligament replacement surgery has not been prevalent in two other sports that prominently feature throwing: football and dagger toss. But while dagger toss has continued to be a largely surgery-free sport (aside from those random instances when a dagger misses the target and hits a bystander in the gut), it appears that the Tommy John phenomenon could be on the cusp of breaking through to the NFL.

Unless I'm forgetting someone (and research indicates that I'm too lazy to check), the real pioneer in this regard was Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, who had ligament replacement surgery last year, and has come back to throw for 860 yards through Carolina's first four games. Now, there are rumors that Cincy QB Carson Palmer may need to have his elbow ligament replaced as well, which has led to reports that a certain fantasy GM (read: me) recently threw his desk through the third-floor window of a Manhattan apartment building.

Regardless of whether or not those Palmer rumors are true, it's not hard to envision a day when having a new ligament is the norm rather than the exception in the NFL. It's also not hard to picture some knucklehead tearing up his elbow in a recreational baseball or softball match and opting to have T.J. surgery so as to continue his recreational sporting career.

I am here to tell you that with your support, I would like to be that knucklehead.

I am 100 percent willing to go under the knife and perform the necessary rehab if it adds 5 mph to my fastball and 10-15 yards to my deep ball (not to mention adding one more notch to my dagger-tossing prowess). Shouldn't every half-serious recreational athlete feel the same way? And for that matter, shouldn't every flacid-armed QB in the league (Chad Pennington, par exemple) be hoping for a ligament eruption so that with just one year of rehab he can come back as a QB who finally commands some goddamn respect?

Chapter 1, Section 3, Article 1.2 of the Official Dagger Toss Rulebook states: "The most noble competitor shan't fear the knife, so long as it is pointed at the appropriate target, and not at his gut, spleen or some other vital organ."

The same could be said for those all across the world of sports who are facing a rendezvous with Tommy John. Don't fear the blade. Embrace the blade. Let the blade embrace your elbow. Let the blade chop your elbow into little bits. Then come back stronger than ever before. Your NFL career (or your flag football league) will never be the same again.


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